It’s unclear how extending short-term health insurance would affect Montana

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By: Holly Michels

On Tuesday the Trump administration released a proposed rule that could make short-term health insurance plans more attractive to consumers by extending their duration for up to a year. But opponents are concerned the change could destabilize the insurance marketplaces set up under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Short-term insurance plans had been limited to three months, but the proposal would extend that to up to a year. The short-term plans were meant for people who were changing jobs, moving, or otherwise found themselves without insurance coverage and outside of an enrollment period.

The plans are typically less expensive than coverage offered on exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act because they do not have to cover the same types of guaranteed benefits and coverage. The plans were capped at 90 days to make them less appealing to people who would otherwise purchase coverage on the exchange.

“Americans need more choices in health insurance so they can find coverage that meets their needs,” said federal Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “The status quo is failing too many Americans who face skyrocketing costs and fewer and fewer choices. The Trump Administration is taking action so individuals and families have access to quality, affordable health care that works for them.”…

Matt Rosendale, state auditor and commissioner of securities and insurance, has advocated for health insurance literacy since taking office and would continue that effort if the proposed rule were to take effect, spokesman Kyle Schmauch said Tuesday.

“Matt favors opening up options to consumers, but people need to be informed, prior to purchasing, fully what they’re getting — making sure people are fully informed with what products are out there, making sure they are in compliance with Montana statutes, making sure insurance companies are forthright in what is covered, what the benefits are,” Schmauch said.

Rosendale supports expanding the options for health insurance “outside the scope of Obamacare regulations,” Schmauch said.

Schmauch said Rosendale isn’t concerned that the proposed rule would destabilize the marketplace because he believes people who would purchase the short-term plans aren’t getting covered now.

“We’re already seeing that happen because of the high cost of Obamacare plans for people who are not subsidized,” he said. And after a change in the tax bill signed at the end last year that removed tax penalties for people who did not have insurance, Schmauch said those people who would leave the marketplace would forgo coverage altogether without a cheaper option.

Read more at the Helena IR